JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The families of two women who have sought to be recognized as children of Nelson Mandela have contacted the executors of the will of the anti-apartheid leader, but are not seeking money, a lawyer said Monday.
Michael Katz, a lawyer for the executors, said he had received an attorney’s letter citing the women’s claims, and that he would discuss the matter with the executors, who revealed details of the will last week.
“They made the claim that they are descendants of Madiba,” Katz said, using Mandela’s clan name. “They indicated that this wasn’t a monetary claim.”
Allegations that Mandela had dalliances outside his marriage to his first wife, Evelyn Mase, have circulated for years. At the time, in the 1940s and 1950s, he was embarking on a legal career and becoming an organizer in the fight against white minority rule. Mandela, who became president in South Africa’s first all-race elections in 1994, died Dec. 5 at the age of 95 after a long illness.
One woman seeking recognition as Mandela’s daughter, Onica Mothoa, said she does not care about his inheritance but wants to be acknowledged and has taken a DNA test in hopes of proving her claim, reported The Star, a South African newspaper.
The other woman, 63-year-old Mpho Pule, died from a stroke in 2009 after trying in vain to contact Mandela, the Mail and Guardian newspaper reported in 2010. Pule started trying to meet Mandela in 1998 after her grandmother told her that Mandela was her father, according to the newspaper.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation says Mandela had six children, and three died. It does not mention Mothoa and Pule in a genealogy. They were reportedly born during Mandela’s stormy marriage to Mase, with whom he had four children. The couple divorced in 1958. Mase, who died in 2004, had accused Mandela of adultery.
“I know the Mandela family have always believed that I was being opportunistic because I wanted a share in the inheritance. That’s not true. I just want them to acknowledge that Mandela is my father,” The Star quoted Mothoa, who is in her 60s, as saying.
“No amount of millions can buy the identity of a person. It is very important even for my children, as well as my grandchildren, to know who they are,” said Mothoa, who had tried in vain to see Mandela when he was sick last year.
The executors of Mandela’s estate said last week that his estate was worth roughly $4.1 million and that it will be shared between his family, members of his staff, schools that he attended and the African National Congress, the movement that fought white rule and now governs South Africa.